Imagine a world with knights in shining armour, dragons, evil villains and science experiments. It’s a great recipe for a fantastic adventure, and Nimona delivers just that. The writer and illustrator Noelle Stevenson blurs the line between hero and villain in this graphic novel that’s clever, funny and thoroughly engaging. Nimona started out as an online webcomic that the creator decided to publish as a book in 2015.
Without giving away too much, the story starts off in a classic fairytale intro with hero and villain with sidekick – just not in that order. Nimona crashes into the world of “the villain” – the brilliantly named Lord Baluster Blackheart, who I later learn is pitted against his friend-now-nemesis “the hero”, Sir Ambrosious Goldenlion (try saying that three times in a row without reverting to a radio voice). Yes I use inverted commas because all is not what it seems in the world of Nimona.
I will admit I didn’t like the title character Nimona at first. She was annoying in a hyperactive-child-on-coffee kind of way. She’s unpredictable, brash and impulsive. I pitied Blackheart for putting up with her but as the story progressed I learned to really love Nimona in all her insane impetuousness. She’s brave and wants to be part of something that makes her all the more determined to keep trying. Nimona is a weird, yet fitting addition to a world that acts as if it has clearly drawn sides of good and evil. Her existence helps to uncover the hypocrisy of what is considered “good” and “evil” and her energy is one that can’t be contained in such a binary distinction.
I think part of me would like to be more like her, being the stick in the mud that I am to schedules and plans! The story becomes much more complex than I originally gave it credit for, with twists and turns that I didn’t really expect and some proper laugh out loud moments. It’s no wonder it was a National Book Award Finalist (US based) and I can only (vainly) hope for the possibility of a Nimona 2.